AWOL at Vung Tau Beach: photography as epistolic dialogue

Brown, Isaac Douglas (2017). AWOL at Vung Tau Beach: photography as epistolic dialogue PhD Thesis, School of Communication and Arts, The University of Queensland. doi:10.14264/uql.2017.697

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Author Brown, Isaac Douglas
Thesis Title AWOL at Vung Tau Beach: photography as epistolic dialogue
School, Centre or Institute School of Communication and Arts
Institution The University of Queensland
DOI 10.14264/uql.2017.697
Publication date 2017-06-30
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Gillian Whitlock
Stuart Glover
Peter Milne
Language eng
Subjects 1905 Visual Arts and Crafts
190503 Lens-based Practice
Formatted abstract
My adult relationship with my father is difficult for me. It is not abusive, violent or exploitative, but differences between us contribute to a history of disconnection. This study examines how photo media can ethically address the difficult and complex interactions I have with my father and my son. It contains an extraordinary narrative and begins by examining the possibilities and limits of a contemporary photo documentary practice to facilitate communication between me and my father. It aimed at the onset to address and challenge fissures in the relationship between us. Ultimately this study shifted from this original premise and became driven by a sharpened sense of the ethical engagements encountered through photo media practice.

The study is developed in two parts. The first is a series of photographic works, based in documentary photography, that are the basis of an epistolic dialogue. Unique, handcrafted visual letters have been created and exchanged between my father and me. In some cases, later additions of handwritten text were added to the page in pen and pencil to record the ongoing discussions the letters initiated. These epistles draw on the notions of place and postmemory, and to an extent they examine transgenerational trauma. The second part of the study examines the radical challenge of an ethical approach to the relationship, the difficulties it entails, and the birth of my own son. A series of ‘unsent letters’ seek to reconceptualise the father/son relationship through their engagement with the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. This second part of the project demonstrates a turn away from the notion of place, and a preconceived understanding of the relationship as related to place, to a visual exploration of the relationship unbound by place. The works show this exploration is necessarily affected by my own new paternity.
Keyword Photography
Documentary photography
Photo media
Father son relationship
Ethical philosophy
Visual communication

Document type: Thesis
Collections: UQ Theses (RHD) - Official
UQ Theses (RHD) - Open Access
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Created: Wed, 28 Jun 2017, 14:32:41 EST by Isaac Douglas Brown on behalf of Learning and Research Services (UQ Library)